One of the Marys is Stepping Out
Posted May 14, 2014
By DwayneLacy_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Mary Mary is a groundbreaking Gospel/Urban Inspirational Group that splashed on the scene in 2000 with their colossal smash song, "Shackles." This single crossed over onto R&B, pop, Dance and the CCM charts.
You would have thought it was the only Mary Mary song as some CCM stations played that song for years on their respective stations. Flash forward to 2014 and several albums, marriages and children later and Mary Mary is still strong. They currently have a reality TV show on Bravo TV that is so honest and real that it has garnered some criticism.
Erica Campbell, the elder of the duo has stepped out on her own to release new project, Help. Although it was produced in its entirety by Erica's husband and longtime Mary Mary producer, Warryn Campbell, they carve out a sound that fits Erica's voice very well. It does not sound like a Mary Mary record without Tina, which is a sign of respect to the power of Mary Mary as a duo.
Erica has one of the cleanest falsetto voices that I have heard in Gospel music. She really starts in her head voice in the beautiful ballad, "The Question." The song, with only keys and light guitar strumming has Erica asking, "Who killed Jesus?......Nobody! He laid it all down, down for me." What a way to start off an album and what a way to establish her own niche as a solo artist.
"You Are" starts off kind of light with a pop/R&B feel that one can snap their fingers to. It builds to a big band sound and listen to Erica take it straight to church with some riffs, squalls and runs. Excuse this incorrect grammar, but "Sang gul (girl)!"
Erica and the Atkins (hers and Tina's maiden name) family suffered a very serious loss when the loss of her father, Eddie Atkins. The family came together to make his funeral more of a celebration with funny stories and a powerful choir directed by their mother. Erica pays homage to her father in the properly titled, "Eddie." Warryn uses retro R&B as the backdrop for Erica to honor him in song.
The desperation in Erica's voice is captured very well in the title song, "Help," and this is a "go to" song for me, personally. With issues with her vocal chords, the changing of managers, the death of her father and going out on her own, it is no wonder she would do a song like "Help." Lecrae's rap is clever and fits in the right place. Check the last few bars, "So when life fights, it don't fight fair / So I'm leaning on these ropes now / So I got rope, but it's low now / So I'm leaning on these quotes now / Like, 'Never leave, nor forsake me.' / If You don't help me, I don't make it."
It is obvious how Erica is leaning on Jesus for everything as she continues her cry for His help. "A Little More Jesus" is a foot-stomping, hand-clapping song that is basically Erica Campbell meets quartet Gospel.
Alright this album has some of the coolest music that will make you close your eyes and have that wonderful nostalgic feeling. "What A Feeling" definitely borrows from elements of Michael Jackson's early R&B jams. Then "Looking Like" starts off like "Bop Gun" by '70s funk band Parliament.
Mary Mary will always be a duo and the love shared by the two sisters will never be broken. With that being said, Help was a very good debut offering by Erica Campbell. Warryn's production is nothing short of masterful. Please go out and purchase this album!
Song to Download Now:
"Help" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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